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I FELT that the train was hardly moving.

I reached Bougival at eleven.

Not one window in the house was lit. I rang, but no one answered.

It was the first time anything like this had happened. At length, the gardener appeared I entered the house.

Nanine met me with a light. I reached Marguerite's room.

'Where is your mistress?'

'Madame has gone to Paris, ' Nanine answered.

'Paris!'

'Yes, sir.'

'When?'

'An hour after you.'

'Did she leave anything for you to give me?'

'Nothing.'

Nanine left me.

'It's quite likely she was afraid, ' I thought, 'and went to Paris to see for herself whether the visit I'd said I was going to make to my father's wasn't just an excuse for having a day away from her.

'Perhaps Prudence wrote to her about something important, ' I said to myself when I was alone. 'But I saw Prudence as soon as I got there, and she didn't say anything to make me suppose that she'd written to Marguerite.'

Suddenly, I recalled the question Madame Duvernoy had asked me: 'So she's not coming today?' when I had told her Marguerite was ill. Simultaneously, I remembered Prudence's embarrassed reaction when I'd stared at her after hearing her words, which had seemed to hint at a secret rendezvous. To this was added my recollection of the tears Marguerite had wept all that day which had been pushed into the back of my mind by my father's warm welcome.

From this moment on, all of the day's events began to congregate around my original suspicion and rooted it so firmly in my thoughts that everything seemed to confirm it, even my father's leniency.

Marguerite had virtually insisted that I should go to Paris. She had pretended to be calm when I suggested I should stay by her side. Had I fallen into a trap? Was Marguerite deceiving me? Had she counted on getting back in sufficiently good time for me to remain unaware of her absence, and had some chance occurrence detained her? Why had she not said anything to Nanine, or why had she not left me a note? What was the meaning of the tears, her absence, this whole mystery?

Such were the questions which, with some trepidation, I put to myself as I stood in that empty bedroom, with my eyes fixed on the clock which, striking midnight, seemed to be telling me that it was too late now for me to hope to see my mistress return.

And yet, after the plans we had made, after the sacrifice which had been offered and accepted, was it likely she should be unfaithful? No. I made a conscious effort to dismiss my initial assumptions.

'The poor girl has probably found a buyer for her furniture and has gone to Paris to finalize the details. She didn't want to tell me beforehand because she knows that, though I may have agreed to her selling everything, for our future happiness depends on it, I don't like the idea at all. She was afraid she'd wound my pride and my scruples if she mentioned it. She'd much prefer to turn up again when everything is settled. It's obvious that Prudence was expecting her in connection with all this, and she gave herself away to me. Marguerite won't have been able to conclude her business today and is spending the night in her apartment, or perhaps she'll be here any minute, for she must have some idea of how anxious I am and certainly won't want to leave me to worry.

'But if that's the way of it, why the tears? She loves me of course, but I expect the poor girl couldn't help crying at the thought of giving up the luxury she's lived in up to now, for it made her happy and envied.'

I readily forgave Marguerite her regrets. I waited impatiently for her to come so that I could tell her, as I smothered her in kisses, that I had guessed the reason for her mysterious absence.

But the night wore on and still Marguerite did not come.

Imperceptibly, my anxiety tightened its hold, and gripped both my mind and my heart. Perhaps something had happened to her! Perhaps she was lying injured or ill or dead! Perhaps I would see a messenger arrive with news of some terrible accident! Perhaps the new day would find me still plunged in the same uncertainties, the same fears!

The thought that Marguerite was being unfaithful to me even as I waited in the midst of the terrors unleashed by her absence, no longer entered my head. There had to be some good reason, independent of her will, to keep her far from me, and the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that this reason could only be some misfortune or other. Oh, the pride of man assumes protean shapes!

It had just struck one. I told myself I would wait another hour and then, if Marguerite were not back by two o'clock, I would leave for Paris.

To while away the time, I looked for a book, for I dared not let myself think.

Manon Lescaut lay open on the table. It appeared to me that here and there the pages were damp, as though tears had been shed over them. After skimming through the volume, I closed it: the print made no sense through the veil of my doubts.

Time passed slowly. The sky was overcast. Autumn rain lashed the windows. At times, the empty bed seemed, I thought, to resemble a grave. I felt afraid.

I opened the door. I listened, but heard nothing save the sound of the wind in the trees. No carriage rattled by on the road outside. Half past struck lugubriously from the church tower.

I had reached the point where I was afraid that someone would come. I felt that only misfortune would come seeking me out at such an hour and in such dismal weather.

It struck two. I waited a little longer. Only the regular, rhythmic ticking of the clock disturbed the silence.

At length, I left the room. Even the most trivial object in it had assumed that air of gloom which an anxious and lonely heart lends to everything around it.

In the next room, I found Nanine asleep over her needle work. The creaking of the door woke her, and she asked me if her mistress had returned.

'No, but if she does, you will say that I couldn't stand the worry and that I've gone to Paris.'

'At this time of night?'

'Yes.'

'But how will you get there? You won't find a carriage now.'

'I'll walk.'

'But it's raining.'

'So?'

'Madame will be back, or if she's not, there'll still be time in the morning to go and see what's kept her. You'll get yourself murdered on the way.'

'There's no danger of that, my dear Nanine. I'll see you tomorrow.'

She was a good girl and went to get my coat. She helped me on with it, offered to run round and wake the widow Arnould to enquire whether it would be possible to order a carriage. But I said no. I was certain that her efforts, which might in any case come to nothing, would waste more time than it would take for me to get half way there.

Besides, I needed air, needed to tire myself physically as a way of working off the agitation which gripped me.

I took the key to the apartment in the rue d'Antin and, saying goodbye to Nanine who came with me as far as the gates, I left.

At first, I set off at a run, but the ground was wet with the recent rain, and I tired quickly. After running for half an hour, I was forced to stop. I was bathed in perspiration. I recovered my breath and went on. The night was so dark that I went in constant fear of colliding with one of the trees lining the road which, as they loomed up unexpectedly, looked like enormous ghosts bearing down on me.

I encountered one or two waggoner's carts, but soon left them behind.

A barouche passed making for Bougival at a fast trot. As it drew level with me, my hopes rose that Marguerite was inside.

I stopped and shouted: 'Marguerite! Marguerite!'

But no one answered and the barouche continued on its way. I watched it go, and then set off again.

It took me two hours to get to the Barriere de l'Etoile.

The sight of Paris revived me, and I ran down the long avenue which I had walked along so often.

That night, no one was walking along it.

It was like an avenue in a dead city.

Day was just beginning to break.

When I reached the rue d'Antin, the great city was already beginning to stir before waking.

The clock of the church of Saint- Roch was striking five when I entered the building where Marguerite lived.

I flung my name at the porter, who had got enough twenty-franc tips out of me to know I was quite entitled to call on Mademoiselle Gautier at five in the morning.

In this way, I got past him unimpeded.

I could have asked him if Marguerite was at home. But he might have replied that she wasn't, and I preferred to keep my doubts for another two minutes. While there was doubt there was hope.

I listened at her door, trying to detect a sound or a movement.

But there was nothing. The silence of the country seemed to extend as far as here.

I unlocked the door and went inside.

All the curtains were tightly closed.

I drew back those in the dining- room and made for the bedroom. I pushed the door open.

I leaped on the curtain cord and pulled it savagely.

The curtains opened. A faint glimmer of light pierced the gloom and I ran over to the bed.

It was empty!

I opened all the doors one after another. I looked in all the rooms.

There was no one there.

I thought I would go out of my mind.

I went into the dressing-room, opened the window and called several times to Prudence.

Madame Duvernoy's window remained shut.

Then I went down to the porter's lodge and asked him if Mademoiselle Gautier had been to her apartment the previous day.

'Yes, ' the man said, 'with Madame Duvernoy.'

'She left no word for me?'

'No.'

'Do you know what they did afterwards?'

'They got into a carriage.'

'What sort of carriage?'

'A gentleman's brougham.'

What could it all mean?

I rang at the house next door.

'Who are you wanting, sir?' the porter asked as he opened the door to me.

'Madame Duvernoy.'

'She's not back.'

'Are you sure?'

'Yes, sir. There's even a letter that was delivered yesterday evening that I haven't had chance to give her.'

And the man showed me a letter at which I glanced mechanically.

I recognized Marguerite's handwriting.

I took the letter.

It was addressed like this: 'To Madame Duvernoy, to be given to Monsieur Duval.'

'This letter is for me, ' I told the porter, and I showed him the address.

'Are you Monsieur Duval?' the man answered.

'Yes.'

'Now I recognize you. You often come here to see Madame Duvernoy.'

As soon as I was in the street, I broke open the seal on the letter.

Had lightning struck at my feet, I would not have been more appalled than by what I read.

'By the time you read this, Armand, I shall be another man's mistress. Consequently, all is finished between us.

Go back to your father, my dear. Go and see your sister. She's a pure young woman who knows nothing of all our miseries. With her, you will very quickly forget what you have suffered at the hands of a fallen creature named Marguerite Gautier who, for an instant, you truly loved and who stands in your debt for the only happy moments in her life which, she hopes, will not last much longer.'

When I reached the end, I thought I was going out of my mind.

For a moment, I was genuinely afraid that I would collapse on to the cobbles of the street. My eyes clouded over and the blood pulsated in my temples.

After a while, I recovered something of my composure and looked around me in astonishment as I saw other people going about their lives without pausing over my unhappiness.

I was not strong enough by myself to bear the blow which Marguerite had dealt me.

Then I recalled that my father was there in the same city as myself, that I could be with him in ten minutes and that, whatever the reason for my sorrows, he would share them.

I ran like a madman, like a thief, all the way to the Hotel de Paris. The key was in the door of my father's apartment. I let myself in.

He was reading.

Judging by the small show of surprise which he displayed when he saw me, you might have thought that he had been expecting me.

I flung myself into his arms without a word, gave him Marguerite's letter and, sliding to the floor at his bedside, wept long, bitter tears.

我觉得火车开得太慢,仿佛不在走一样。

十一点钟我到了布吉瓦尔。

那座房子所有的窗户都没有亮光,我拉铃,没有人回答。

这样的事我还是第一次遇到。后来总算园丁出来了,我走了进去。

纳尼娜拿着灯向我走来。我走进了玛格丽特的卧室。

“太太呢?”

“太太到巴黎去了,”纳尼娜回答我说。

“到巴黎去了?”

“是的,先生。”

“什么时候去的?”

“您走后一个小时。”

“她没有什么东西留给我吗?”

“没有。”

纳尼娜离开我走了。

“她可能有什么疑虑,”我想,“也许是到巴黎去证实我对她说的去看父亲的事究竟是不是一个借口,为的是得到一天自由。

“或者是普律当丝有什么重要事情写信给她了,”当剩下我一个人的时候我心里想:“但是在我去巴黎的时候已经见到过普律当丝,在她跟我的谈话里面我一点也听不出她曾给玛格丽特写过信。”

突然我想起了当我对迪韦尔诺瓦太太说玛格丽特不舒服时,她问了我一句话:“那么她今天不来了吗?”这句话似乎泄露了她们有约会,同时我又想起了在她讲完这句话我望她的时候,她的神色很尴尬。我又回忆起玛格丽特整天眼泪汪汪,后来因为我父亲接待我很殷勤,我就把这些事给忘了。

想到这里,这天发生的一切事情都围绕着我的第一个怀疑打转,使我的疑心越来越重。所有一切,一直到父亲对我的慈祥态度都证实了我的怀疑。

玛格丽特几乎是逼着我到巴黎去的,我一提出要留在她身边,她就假装平静下来。我是不是落入了圈套?玛格丽特是在欺骗我吗?她是不是本来打算要及时回来,不让我发现她曾经离开过,但由于发生了意外的事把她拖住了呢?为什么她什么也没对纳尼娜说,又不给我写几个字呢?这些眼泪,她的出走,这些神秘莫测的事究竟是什么意思呢?

在这个空荡荡的房间里面,我惶惶不安地想着以上这些问题。我眼睛盯着墙上的时钟,时针已指着半夜,似乎在告诉我,要想再见到我的情妇回来,时间已经太晚了。

然而,不久前我们还对今后的生活作了安排;她作出了牺牲,我也接受了。难道她真的在欺骗我吗?不会的。我竭力要丢开我刚才的那些设想。

也许这个可怜的姑娘为她的家具找到了一个买主,她到巴黎接洽去了。这件事她不想让我事前知道,因为她知道,尽管这次拍卖对于我们今后的幸福十分必要,而且我也同意了,但这对我来说总是很难堪的。她怕在向我谈这件事时会伤了我的自尊心,损害我的感情。她宁愿等一切都办妥了再跟我见面。显而易见,普律当丝就是为了这件事在等她,而且在我面前泄漏了真相。玛格丽特今天大概还不能办完这次交易,她睡在普律当丝家里,也许她一会儿就要回来了,因为她应该想到我在担忧,肯定不会把我就这样丢在这里的。

但是她为什么要流泪呢?无疑是不管她怎样爱我,这个可怜的姑娘要放弃这种奢侈生活,到底还是舍不得的。她已经过惯了这种生活,并且觉得很幸福,别人也很羡慕她。

我非常体谅玛格丽特这种留恋不舍的心情。我焦急地等着她回来,我要好好地吻吻她,并对她说,我已经猜到了她神秘地出走的原因。

然而,夜深了,玛格丽特仍旧没有回来。

我越来越感到焦虑不安,心里紧张得很。她会不会出了什么事!她是不是受伤了,病了,死了!也许我马上就要看见一个信差来通知我什么噩耗,也许一直到天亮,我仍将陷在这同样的疑惑和忧虑之中。

玛格丽特的出走使我惊慌失措,我提心吊胆地等着她,她是否会欺骗我呢?这种想法我一直没再有过。一定是有一种她作不了主的原因把她拖住了,使她不能到我这里来。我越是想,越是相信这个原因只能是某种灾祸。啊,人类的虚荣心呵!你的表现形式真是多种多样啊。

一点钟刚刚敲过,我心里想我再等她一个小时,倘使到了两点钟玛格丽特还不回来,我就动身到巴黎去。

在等待的时候,我找了一本书看,因为我不敢多想。

《玛侬·莱斯科》翻开在桌子上,我觉得书页上有好些地方似乎被泪水沾湿了。在翻看了一会以后,我把书又合上了。

由于我疑虑重重,书上的字母对我来说似乎毫无意义。

时间慢慢在流逝,天空布满了乌云,一阵秋雨抽打着玻璃窗,有时空荡荡的床铺看上去犹如一座坟墓,我害怕起来了。

我打开门,侧耳静听,除了树林里簌簌的风声以外什么也听不见。路上车辆绝迹,教堂的钟凄凉地在敲半点钟。

我倒反而怕有人来了,我觉得在这种时刻,在这种阴沉的天气,要有什么事情来找我的话,也决不会是好事。

两点钟敲过了,我稍等了一会儿,唯有那墙上时钟的单调的滴答声打破寂静的气氛。

最后我离开了这个房间,由于内心的孤独和不安,在我看来这个房间里连最小的物件也都蒙上了一层愁云。

在隔壁房间里我看到纳尼娜扑在她的活计上面睡着了。听到门响的声音,她惊醒了,问我是不是她的女主人回来了。

“不是的,不过如果她回来,您就对她说我实在放心不下,到巴黎去了。”

“现在去吗?”

“是的。”

“可怎么去呢,车子也叫不到了。”

“我走着去。”

“可是天下着雨哪!”

“那有什么关系?”

“太太要回来的,再说即使她不回来,等天亮以后再去看她是让什么事拖住了也不迟啊。您这样在路上走会被人谋害的。”

“没有危险的,我亲爱的纳尼娜,明天见。”

这位忠厚的姑娘把我的大衣找来,披在我肩上,劝我去叫醒阿尔努大娘,向她打听能不能找到一辆车子;但是我不让她去叫她,深信这是白费力气,而且这样一折腾所费的时间比我赶一半路的时间还要长。

再说我正需要新鲜的空气和肉体上的疲劳。这种肉体上的劳累可以缓和一下我现在的过度紧张的心情。

我拿了昂坦街上那所房子的钥匙,纳尼娜一直陪我到铁栅栏门口,我向她告别后就走了。

起初我是在跑步,因为地上刚被雨淋湿,泥泞难行,我觉得分外疲劳。这样跑了半个小时后,我浑身都湿透了,我不得不停了下来。我歇了一会儿又继续赶路,夜黑得伸手不见五指,我每时每刻都怕撞到路旁的树上去,这些树突然之间呈现在我眼前,活像一些向我直奔而来的高大的魔鬼。

我碰到一二辆货车,很快我就把它们甩到后面去了。

一辆四轮马车向布吉瓦尔方向疾驰而来,在它经过我面前的时候,我心头突然出现一个希望:玛格丽特就在这辆马车上。

我停下来叫道:“玛格丽特!玛格丽特!”

但是没有人回答我,马车继续赶它的路,我望着它渐渐远去,我又接着往前走。

我走了两个小时,到了星形广场①的栅栏门。

①星形广场:凯旋门四周的广场。

看到巴黎我又有了力量,我沿着那条走过无数次的长长的坡道跑了下去。

那天晚上路上连个行人也没有。

我仿佛在一个死去的城市里散步。

天色渐渐亮了。

在我抵达昂坦街的时候,这座大城市已经在蠕蠕而动,即将苏醒了。

当我走进玛格丽特家里时,圣罗克教堂的大钟正敲五点。

我把我的名字告诉了看门人,他以前拿过我好些每枚值二十法郎的金币,知道我有权在清晨五点钟到戈蒂埃小姐的家中去。

因此我顺利地进去了。

我原来可以问他玛格丽特是不是在家,但是他很可能给我一个否定的答复,而我宁愿多猜疑上几分钟,因为在猜疑的时候总还是存在一线希望。

我把耳朵贴在门上,想听出一点声音,听出一点动静来。

什么声音也没有,静得似乎跟在乡下一样。

我开门走了进去。

所有的窗帘都掩得严严实实的。

我把餐室的窗帘拉开,向卧室走去,推开卧室的门。我跳到窗帘绳跟前,使劲一拉。

窗帘拉开了,一抹淡淡的日光射了进来,我冲向卧床。

床是空的!

我把门一扇一扇地打开,察看了所有的房间。

一个人也没有。

我几乎要发疯了。

我走进梳妆间,推开窗户连声呼唤普律当丝。

迪韦尔诺瓦太太的窗户一直关闭着。

于是我下楼去问看门人,我问他戈蒂埃小姐白天是不是来过。

“来过的,”这个人回答我说,“跟迪韦尔诺瓦太太一起来的。”

“她没有留下什么话给我吗?”

“没有。”

“您知道她们后来干什么去了?”

“她们又乘马车走了。”

“什么样子的马车。”

“一辆私人四轮轿式马车。”

这一切到底是怎么回事呢?

我拉了拉隔壁房子的门铃。

“您找哪一家,先生?”看门人把门打开后问我。

“到迪韦尔诺瓦太太家里去。”

“她还没有回来。”

“您能肯定吗?”

“能,先生,这里还有她一封信,是昨天晚上送来的,我还没有交给她呢。”

看门人把一封信拿给我看,我机械地向那封信瞥了一眼。

我认出了这是玛格丽特的笔迹。

我拿过信来。

信封上写着:

烦请迪韦尔诺瓦夫人转交迪瓦尔先生。

“这封信是给我的,”我对看门人说,我把信封上的字指给他看。

“您就是迪瓦尔先生吗?”这个人问我。

“是的。”

“啊!我认识您,您经常到迪韦尔诺瓦太太家来的。”

一到街上,我就打开了这封信。

即使在我脚下响起了一个霹雷也不会比读到这封信更使我觉得惊恐的了。

在您读到这封信的时候,阿尔芒,我已经是别人的情妇了,我们之间一切都完了。

回到您父亲跟前去,我的朋友,再去看看您的妹妹,她是一个纯洁的姑娘,她不懂得我们这些人的苦难。在您妹妹的身旁,您很快就会忘记那个被人叫做玛格丽特·戈蒂埃的堕落的姑娘让您受到的痛苦。她曾经一度享受过您的爱情,这个姑娘一生中仅有的幸福时刻就是您给她的,她现在希望她的生命早点结束。

当我念到最后一句话时,我觉得我快要神经错乱了。

有一忽儿我真怕要倒在街上了。我眼前一片云雾,热血在我太阳穴里突突地跳动。

后来我稍许清醒了一些,我环视着周围,看到别人并不关心我的不幸,他们还是照常生活,我真奇怪透了。

我一个人可承受不了玛格丽特给我的打击。

于是我想到了我父亲正与我在同一个城市,十分钟后我就可以到他身边了,而且他会分担我的痛苦,不管这种痛苦是什么原因造成的。

我像个疯子、像个小偷似的奔跑着,一直跑到巴黎旅馆,看见我父亲的房门上插着钥匙,我开门走了进去。

他在看书。

看到我出现在他面前,他并不怎么惊奇,仿佛正在等着我似的。

我一句话也不说就倒在他怀抱里,我把玛格丽特的信递给他,听任自己跌倒在他的床前,我热泪纵横地嚎啕大哭起来。